Web 2.0 Bubble

I am seeing signs that we are definitely in a Web 2.0 bubble. But I am also beginning to recognize who will survive. In a culture where publishers and media companies are rapidly shifting strategies, there is a lot to learn from those on the cutting edge – the tech industry.

You see, people are beginning to expect innovation just as those in the real estate industry expected 20% price increases every year.

Apple is a great example. Yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs held a product announcement event that was widely anticipated. There were rumors all over the Web of radical new products, including an iPhone, touch-screen iPods, and a wireless living room media center. Wall Street analysts were hyping the share price, and everyone seemed poised to throw more money at Apple. But that didn’t happen.

Why? Because true innovation takes time. Steve did announce a living room media center will be coming next year, and in an obvious split from his routine, he pre-announced this, something Apple never does. I think he know that hype around the event far outweighed what he was delivering that day.

It is ironic because Apple rolled out some great upgrades yesterday. These enhancements to existing products clearly illustrated that Apple is listening to their customers, and dedicated to spending resources to improve their products, improve the experience of Apple, and redefine the products in their markets.

And really, its the little things. Redesigning a user interface that is not very splashy, but works much better; allowing songs that were meant to flow into each other, to actually do that; to make a tiny product even tinier, but make it far more useful; redesign headphones, a freebie with iPods, to make them even better than they were before; continuously offering better features for a lower price.

People are grumbling in the online forums. The media is at a loss for an eye-catching headline. And everyone seems a bit disappointed.

Apple’s adherence to true innovation, their belief in making a stellar experience with their products, listening to their customers, and making everything they do incrementally better every few months – this should serve as a model for a company that will survive long after the stock analysts stop caring.

I wonder what other companies, who are quicker to react, and not building these traits into their DNA will do.